What is Relevance

Article by Steve Mapúa
Dec 2, 2001

Search Engines (SE) Will Always Try to Return Something

Search engines can not return nothing. By virtue of their business model, they have to return valid results. Often refered to as Search Engine Results Page (SERP). If users don’t find what they are looking for they will change their query, or in frustration go to a different search engine. What this means is Search Engines not only have a moral imperative but a business survival impetus to provide valid results.

What is the Algorithm?

Note that SEs use the term index when discussing their ranking algorithm. Recall the index card system when you were doing your research in the library? The same construct is used to index webpages and determine relevance. Was the book name relevant (title tag)? Was the synopsis what you were looking for (meta description)? Were the keywords relevant (meta keywords)? Did the chapters cover the information you were searching (h1 to h5 tags)? Did the content of the book have the keywords?

You are the Librarian

Back then, it was the librarian’s job to provide the index information and make sure it was accurate. Today SEs look at your pages much the same way a librarian does. You are your website’s librarian for the search engines. Provide the proper information so your pages can be indexed precisely. Don’t use deceptive tags, be accurate. Don’t use keywords in meta tags that don’t exist in your page. Don’t stuff keywords in your tags and content.

Good Content Always Wins

Today, it is your job to provide value when constructing your web pages. Valuable content will always rank well. Don’t write exclusively for the SEs, write for your viewers. By giving them value, your pages will rank well and will weather any storm.

What can I do?

Know your company, know your market, know your competition, know your product or service and most importantly, know yourself. Provide value to your viewers. Write content that is informative and interesting. Give your viewers a compelling reason to drill into your site. Don’t practice black arts when optimizing your site. This will eventually come back to bite you. In this day and age where businesses live or die based on SERPs, creating a value oriented website is the best insurance for longevity.